Palm Beach Island Cats is happy to report that for 2013, there were only 28 known kittens on the island, and a few of that number were abandoned and not born in Palm Beach.  All of these kittens were medically treated to give them a healthy start to life, and they were all adopted!

Despite the tremendous and successful job that the Field Operations Teams does in Palm Beach, we do get calls about litters of new kittens every birthing cycle, so we must know the age of the kittens before we can begin their wellness care.  Many decisions related to veterinary care are determined by an animal’s age – particularly in terms of timing vaccinations – so it’s important to be as precise as possible. Accurately aging kittens can seem like a daunting job, but a few simple guidelines to determine a kitten’s age makes the task of knowing what care is needed and when.   PBIC determines the age by teeth and weight!

Kitten teeth look like what? Deciduous (baby) teeth start to come in around 3 weeks of age in kittens, and their permanent adult teeth start to come in between 3 and 4 months of age. The middle incisors are the first to come in around 14 weeks of age, with the second and third incisors following shortly thereafter at approximately 15 and 16 weeks respectively. These benchmarks serve as a helpful guideline to know that a kitten is old enough to receive his or her rabies vaccination! 

 

While we know kitten teeth are tiny, it can be tricky to tell if the incisors are baby or permanent teeth.  It’s easier when there are some of both to serve as comparison (see photo at left).  The baby teeth are a little smaller with pointed tips while the permanent teeth are a little wider with flat edges.  Because the first two incisors I the photo are permanent teeth and the third incisors are still baby teeth, the estimated age of the kitten is approximately 15 weeks.  And the weight should be slightly less than 4 pounds. 

 

 

So how much do the kittens weigh?   A kitten’s weight roughly corresponds to the age in months and is relatively predictable until about 5 months of age. As long as a kitten is in good body condition, the safe guess is that a 1-pound kitten is about 4 weeks old and a 3-pound kitten is about 12 weeks old.

Are their eyes open? Kittens are born with their eyes closed and don’t open until about 10 days of age.

Are they walking and playing? Most kittens start walking around 3 weeks of age but take a little longer to gain their coordination. We’re comfortable saying that a kitten walking pretty well and playing is at least 4 weeks of age.